Friday, August 20, 2010

One Nation, Under Free Willl....

Franklin Graham explains it all for you:

"Well, you know, you can be born a Muslim, you can be born a Jew, but you can't be born a Christian," said Graham. "The only way you can become a Christian is by confessing your sins to God, asking his forgiveness, and by receiving Jesus Christ by faith into your heart, that Christ died for your sins, shed his blood on Calvary's Cross, and that God raised him to life. If you're willing to accept that and believe that, and let Jesus Christ be the lord of your life, God will forgive your sins, he will heal your heart, and that's the only way you can become a Christian. And so if the President has done that, then I would say he's a Christian, if that's what he has done."
He's on sound theological ground here. You can't be "born" a Christian. That's the basis of Kierkegaard's "Attack upon 'Christendom:'" that the individual must make a choice to be a Christian disciple, that it is not a birthright, or the consequent of being born into the right country or culture. But that means something else, too.

It means Franklin Graham has proven that America is not, and cannot be, a "Christian nation." Because Christianity must always be the choice of the individual. It can never be the inheritance of the group. If there is no "Christian seed," there is no Christian nation. There is simply a nation in which Christians, among others, dwell.



  1. Anonymous11:44 AM

    Wa-HOOOO! Great point - I'm going to stick it to my father-in-law next time I see him.

    Dammit, when are we going to have money to fund progressive think tanks to turn brilliant observations like this into talking points and action?

  2. That may be Kierkegaard, and it is certainly the position of the heirs of the radical reformation, but for the majority of Christian communions, for most of history, one becomes of Christian when one is baptized, typically as an infant.

    As one baptized as an infant in a Presbyterian Church, I may have continuously chosen not to apostacise, but I certainly never made the "decision for Christ" that is the touchstone for conversion for evangelicals. I grew up in the did you.

    Been reading Augustine's Confessions again. What is decisive for him, so far as I can tell, is baptism, and the consequent change in life, the abandonment of open sin, that baptism demands.

  3. Graham is making essentially the same point, Rick. One must choose Christianity (he would not, remember, accept infant baptism. And even in our traditions, that requires a "confirmation" when one reaches the age of reason. Influenced by Pietism, modern-day evangelicals and fundamentalists prefer an emotional response to a more Protestant/Catholic acceptance of the faith. But the basic intent is the same, which thinking Kierkegaard merely sharpened in his Lutheran tradition.)

    Franklin's point is, one is not "born" Christian, one "accepts" Christ/Christianity. Ergo, we cannot be a "Christian nation," certainly not in the sense that we were founded as one. You already know that, I already know that, but Graham has put it in terms evangelical and fundamentalist Xians would have a hard time arguing with.

    Irony. It makes the world go 'round.